Big Firms Prepare For Big Bust-Ups

Lion in South Africa

Business as usual just ain't gonna cut it any more.

Reuters reports that British fund manager Hermes wants other shareholders of Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, to reprimand the bank's supervisory board over executive pay and the handling of a change in leadership, the Financial Times reported earlier this week.

Hermes wants shareholders to vote to withhold exoneration of the supervisory board for the 2011 financial year at Deutsche Bank's annual shareholder meeting on May 31 and is said to already have the backing of 27 pension and investment funds holding around 0.5 percent of the bank's shares.

The news agency also reports that Credit Suisse investors should oppose the bank's pay plan at Friday's shareholder meeting, Swiss investor group Ethos said earlier this week, arguing bonus policy is still opaque and too high.

Ethos, which is influential because it makes recommendations to Swiss pension funds, w ould prefer a cap on pay for top management and said bonuses remained too high in 2011 despite falling 41% compared with 2010.

In the meantime, Bloomberg reports that Barclays Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond is betting that rising profitability at the investment bank he built will allow him to fend off a shareholders’ revolt over his compensation.

Investors will vote on Diamond’s £12m compensation at the company’s annual general meeting in London on Friday.

Reuters also reported that police in riot gear arrested two dozen people on Tuesday as protesters with a huge inflated rat sought to disrupt a Wells Fargo annual shareholder meeting to express anger over foreclosures, executive compensation and corporate taxes.

Several of those arrested were handcuffed and taken away in police vans as hundreds more chanted and waved signs outside the meeting in a building across from the bank's San Francisco headquarters.

However this didn't stop Wells Fargo shareholders from ratifying the bank's 2011 executive compensation plan by an overwhelming margin.

Good news, too, for JPMorgan Chase. Reuters reports that directors of the firm have won a key endorsement for how they paid Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and other topic executives last year.

Glass, Lewis & Co, an advisor to institutional investors, recommended in a report earlier this week that shareholders approve JPMorgan's executive compensation practices in an advisory ballot scheduled for the May 15 annual meeting in Tampa, Florida.

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